Sustainable Water Management, MSc

Sustainable Water Management, MSc

Introduction

Our water systems are under increasing pressure from a variety of sources, including climate change, population growth, and waste. Recent weather events in the UK and abroad, for example, have highlighted the need for urgent innovative solutions to minimise the impact of flooding on communities and ecosystems.

The MSc Sustainable Water Management is designed to equip you with the tools to tackle the environmental and socio-economic challenges related to water resource management, from flood management and hydraulic modelling to climate resilience and ecosystem-based adaptation.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSc
Duration
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September
Location of Study
Aberdeen

Water is fundamental to many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals including climate, energy, the environment, food security, equality and health. The management of water resources therefore requires an understanding of complex environmental, economic, social and political challenges, which is what this MSc programme is designed to provide.

In just 12-months (or 24 months if studying part-time) you will gain the skills and knowledge required to solve complex issues in sustainable water management, including water security, the impacts of climate and land use change on water resources, flood risk, water pollution, maintaining ecosystem services, and related management approaches.

Choose from 3 Pathways:

We offer you three distinct pathways, so that you can choose your courses based on your particular interests:

  • Hydrological sciences pathway – with a focus on the technical and environmental science skills
  • Water and Society pathway – with a focus on socio-economic aspects of sustainability
  • Open pathway – a combined mix of both hydrological sciences and socio-economic aspects

The MSc Sustainable Water Management is founded on the School of Geosciences’ strong international profile in hydrology and water resource management. You will also avail of the excellent interdisciplinary strengths in cognate areas of water science, policy and water resources law through optional courses offered by other Schools across the University, which contribute a strong interdisciplinary dimension to the programme.

Sustainable water resource management is essential to addressing many of the environmental, economic and social challenges we face today and so this programme prepares graduates from different academic backgrounds to become the highly skilled professionals needed to tackle these challenges and manage the sustainable use of water resources at local, national and international level.

What You'll Study

The School of Geosciences has a strong international profile and tradition in water resource research which provides the foundation for this Masters programme. Moreover, the University of Aberdeen also has excellent interdisciplinary strengths in cognate areas of water science, policy and law spread across various Schools which can leverage an attractive interdisciplinary dimension to the Programme through optional courses.

Semester 1

Hydrological Sciences Pathway

  • Water in the Environment
  • Hydrological Extremes under Global Change
  • GG5065: Introduction to GIS tools, techniques, cartography and geovisualisation
  • GL5059: Near Surface & Environmental Geophysics

Water and Society Pathway

  • Water in the Environment
  • Hydrological Extremes under Global Change
  • GG5065: Introduction to GIS tools, techniques, cartography and geovisualisation
  • GG5072: Sustainability Transitions – Challenges and Opportunities

Open Pathway

Compulsory courses

  • Water in the Environment
  • Hydrological Extremes under Global Change

Optional courses (select 2)

  • GG5065: Introduction to GIS tools, techniques, cartography and geovisualisation
  • GL5059: Near Surface & Environmental Geophysics
  • GG5059: UAV Remote Sensing, Monitoring and Mapping
  • GG5072: Sustainability Transitions – Challenges and Opportunities

Compulsory Courses

Water in the Environment (15 credits)

This course will provide both conceptual and process-based overviews for understanding the movement and storage of water in the environment and how this underpins the availability and quantitative assessment of water as a resource. The importance of physical hydrology for understanding the quality and ecological aspects of water resources will also be highlighted.

Hydrological Extremes under Global Change (15 credits)

Hydrological extremes, i.e. floods and droughts, are the most widespread natural hazard with the largest impact on the environment and society. Increase in frequency and severity of hydrological extremes as a consequence of climate change make it one of the biggest threats to future water security. This course will provide the conceptual basis and practical illustrations of the changing and “wicked” nature of problems of floods, droughts and management responses in context of population growth and increasing demand.

Optional Courses

Introduction to GIS Tools, Techniques, Cartography & Geovisualisation (GG5065)

15 Credit Points

This module will introduce students to remote sensing techniques and fundamental geospatial tools for displaying and analysing geospatial data. This will include: navigation, measurement, spatial queries, geocoding, scripting, buffering, digitising, and overlay analysis. Several ‘real world’ examples will be used to illustrate the application of the tools for data exploration, spatial analyses, mapping, and visualisation. Emphasis will be placed on obtaining a sound understanding of the principles of each technique, as well as the importance of selecting the correct approach to a problem, analysing the data, and interpretation of the results.

Near Surface & Environmental Geophysics (GL5059)

15 Credit Points

This module focuses on the application of geophysical techniques for solving near surface environmental problems. It covers basic theory and practical aspects of modern data collection for near surface magnetic, gravity, resistivity, electro-magnetic (EM), ground penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic refraction, along with case study examples of application to the assessment and monitoring of a range of scientific and technical environmental problems including water resources, geotechnics, contaminated lands, civil engineering, mining, geothermal resources, archaeology. The module will be taught so that the students will be equipped to plan and undertake their own geophysical experiments focusing on a variety of near surface geophysical targets. The use of a variety of geophysical equipment in the field will form a significant component of this module.

Sustainability Transitions - Challenges and Opportunities (GG5072)

15 Credit Points

This course will discuss the theoretical (and historical) evolution of the notion of sustainability, discuss various related concepts such as green growth and the green economy, introduce the topic of sustainability transitions as an interdisciplinary issue, explore the theory of sustainability transitions and discuss various technological, political, economic and socio-cultural challenges which transitions to sustainable forms of production and consumption must overcome to be successful.

Uav Remote Sensing, Monitoring and Mapping (GG5059)

15 Credit Points

This module will provide students with an introduction to UAV, airborne and satellite remote sensing, digital image processing, and softcopy photogrammetry to extract environmental data and information from digital imagery, and a number of monitoring and mapping applications. Students will learn how to acquire UAV imagery, and to process it into information as part of a group practical mapping exercise.

Semester 2

Hydrological Sciences Pathway

  • Integrated Water Resources Management
  • Sustainable Water Management in Scotland: Field Course
  • EK5807: Catchment Management
  • GG5567: Advanced Spatial Analysis and Programming

Water and Society Pathway

  • Integrated Water Resources Management
  • Sustainable Water Management in Scotland: Field Course
  • GG5557: Governance and Political Economy of Sustainability
  • GG5571: Partnerships for Sustainability

Open Pathway

Compulsory courses

  • Integrated Water Resources Management
  • Sustainable Water Management in Scotland: Field Course

Optional courses (select 2)

  • EK5807: Catchment Management
  • GG5567: Advanced Spatial Analysis and Programming
  • GG5516: Research Methods
  • GG5557: Governance and Political Economy of Sustainability
  • GG5571: Partnerships for Sustainability

Compulsory Courses

Integrated Water Resources Management (15 credits)

Water is one of the world's most important natural resources. It is essential for life and for many economic activities. Yet, water is also one of the world's most undervalued and under-managed resources. Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is a holistic approach to managing water resources. It considers all aspects of water resources, including quantity and quality, ecosystem health, and social and economic factors. IWRM is a complex challenge, but it is essential for achieving sustainable water management. This course will introduce you to the principles of IWRM and provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to start implementing it.

Sustainable Water Management in Scotland: Field course (15 credits)

This course examines key water management issues in Scotland and provides practical hands-on experience. A substantive element is a week-long residential field trip within Scotland, where students will visit water supply and hydropower reservoirs, water treatment plants, river gauging and groundwater monitoring sites, ecological (fisheries) monitoring stations, experimental research catchments and landscape-scale nature-based solutions for integrated land and water management

Optional Courses

Catchment Management (EK5807)

15 Credit Points

Field visits to examine river systems and forested catchments provide context and opportunities to discuss a diverse set of environmental management problems with professionals working in the field.

Practical sessions provide structured activities focused on the identification of freshwater invertebrates and applications of GIS approaches for analysing data to support catchment management planning.

You apply theoretical and practical knowledge to a case study, demonstrating your capacity to evaluate site specific data and to interpret relevant legislation and regulation.

Working individually and with a group you will write and present a management plan for a location of your choosing.

Advanced Spatial Analysis and Programming (GG5567)

15 Credit Points

Central to the application of Geographical Information (GI) in the 'real world' is the acquisition of a fundamental knowledge and understanding of the 'data into information’ pathway using GIS and the geospatial information technologies. This module introduces students to a number of examples of both theory and application of geographical data and information, and the relationships to remote sensing, cartography. visualisation, multimedia, global positioning systems (GPS), mobile GIS, and the Internet. A practical study of mobile GIS and Smartphone Apps for field data collection is included. A practical introduction to the Idrisi GIS software is used for the course.

Governance and Political Economy of Sustainability (GG5557)

15 Credit Points

This course will provide students with knowledge of theories of governance in the context of sustainable development. It will focus on the political economy of sustainable development and the political and economic tensions between different institutions, levels of administration and sectors of economy. Students will learn about theories of governance pertaining to the natural environment and sustainable development. They will explore the different institutional scales (e.g. local, national, global) of environmental governance and the processes of decision making for environmental governance. The course will also investigate the tensions between social, economic and environmental objectives for sustainable development.

Partnerships for Sustainability (GG5571)

15 Credit Points

Partnerships for Sustainability provides an overview understanding and analysis of the role of partnerships as a means of delivering and governing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Research Methods (GG5516)

15 Credit Points

Students are introduced to relevant research methods for the analysis of rural, land, property, and environmental resources. The course is the fundamental building block for the substantive dissertation or partnership project that students undertake over the summer. Topics studied in detail include strategy formulation for effective literature review, various methodological approaches, the selection of appropriate methods for carrying out specified research exercises and the production of feasible research proposals and programmes of work.

Semester 3
  • MSc Sustainable Water Management: Dissertation

Compulsory Courses

MSc Sustainable Water Management: Dissertation (60 credits)

The aim of this module is to enable students to put their specialist skills, knowledge, and understanding into practice through the medium of a significant individual research project and written dissertation. The student will select, undertake, and complete a research-based dissertation project. In choosing and approving a suitable topic in the fields of water resources management, consideration will be given to the student's background and skills, their career interests, suitable data availability, and the possibility of an external placement when available.

This module represents the major individual research project that students must complete as part of the MSc Sustainable Water Management degree

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £22,000
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
Home / RUK £10,000
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Scholarships

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Seminars

Why Study Sustainable Water Management?

  • Sustainable water management requires technical expertise and innovation, but also an understanding of the social, economic, commercial and political aspects of sustainability. That is why we embrace an interdisciplinary approach to this issue and also why we welcome students from diverse academic backgrounds, including the social sciences, environmental sciences, geosciences and engineering.
  • Includes a comprehensive understanding of flood risks and advanced topics including hydraulic modelling, climate resilience, and ecosystem-based adaptation, preparing you to tackle real-world scenarios.
  • The School of Geosciences has a strong international profile in water resource research, which provides the foundation for this Masters programme. Moreover, the University of Aberdeen also has excellent interdisciplinary strengths in cognate areas of water science, policy and law spread across various Schools, which contribute a strong interdisciplinary dimension to the programme through the provision of optional courses.
  • The University of Aberdeen has ranked 70th overall in the world, and 18th in the UK, in the latest THE Impact Rankings, which assesses universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the 2023 rankings, Aberdeen ranked 5th in the UK (1st in Scotland) and 57th globally for SDG6: Clean Water and Sanitation.
  • The Sustainable Water Management in Scotland: Field Course involves a week-long residential field trip where students get to carry out field work at amazing water resources throughout Scotland.
  • Researchers from the University of Aberdeen and James Hutton Institute have worked with The Glenlivet distillery to introduce environmentally sustainable solutions at Chivas Brothers' Speyside distillery to address water scarcity and protect whisky production.
  • Hydrologist Dr Josie Geris led a recent study showing the role beavers could play in restoring Scotland's rivers. The research leading to the publication of the report was requested by NatureScot and funded by the Scottish Government via the Centre of Expertise for Waters.
  • Researchers from the University of Aberdeen are working with scientists, water authorities, and local communities in Sub-Saharan Africa to support the understanding and sustainable use and management of their critically important groundwater resources. Read more about our work in supporting sustainable approaches to water management.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours degree, or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth, in any discipline.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Careers

The global water crisis is also worsening because of a shortage of water professionals. In fact, one industry expert recently estimated that the world will likely fall short of at least 10 million water professionals in the coming decade.

The strong interdisciplinary focus of this programme is ideal preparation for a career in the expanding water sector, where a wide variety of career opportunities can be found across the public, private, and charity sectors.

Water management career opportunities are found with government, regulators, and environmental and conservation agencies involved in river and coastal maintenance, flood defences and flood warning systems such as the Environment Agency (England and Wales) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

There are also various career opportunities in the private sector, working as an environmental consultant as well as NGOs and charities working on sustainable development projects around the world.

Sustainable water management affects each industry

This Masters programme builds on the University's interdisciplinary strengths in water science, policy, and law to prepare graduates of all backgrounds for careers in water resource management

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr Josie Geris
Prof Christopher Soulsby
Dr Jean-Christophe Comte
Jamie Stevenson
Programme Leader
Dr David Haro

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX